When Barry Fields moved to the Washington area three years ago, he was looking for a way to meet people. While poking around the Internet he found Singles Golf DC, a league for unmarried golfers.
"I played in every event for about 12 weeks," Fields said. "By doing that you build a very large group of acquaintances in a very short period of time and then you make friends." He later became group president.
There are plenty of area leagues and tournaments for competitive, dedicated players. But groups like Singles Golf offer golfers of any ability the chance to play regularly and enjoy social interaction with like-minded people without the pressure to drive down their handicaps -- or in most cases, even to have one.
The D.C. chapter of the Executive Women's Golf Association offers female golfers a chance to meet women from all backgrounds, whether they work outside the home or not. The group offers "At Ease on the Tees" classes to help beginners manage the game. More advanced players help newcomers learn the subtleties of business golf.
Speaking of networking, the Networking Golfers' Club (motto: "We take the Work out of Networking") matches players by handicap and type of business. It emphasizes members' ability to make valuable contacts on the links.
Lambda Links gives gay, lesbian and bisexual golfers a way to make friendships while they improve their games.
In addition to social benefits, group members often enjoy reduced rates, non-golf activities and hassle-free play.
"We announce the events," Fields said. "You send in your money. Somebody arranges the pairings and tee times. All you have to do is show up."
The groups listed here welcome special-interest golfers of all skill levels and play courses in D.C., Maryland Virginia.
Singles Golf DC Open to single golfers; season begins in April. www.singlesgolfdc.com
Executive Women's Golf Association Open to female golfers working outside the home or in. Season begins in May. www.ewgdc.org
Networking Golfers' Club Open to golfers seeking to broaden business contacts. Events began in March. www.networkinggolfers.com
Lambda Links Open to gay, lesbian and bisexual golfers. Begins in April. www.lambdalinks.org
While the following groups do not sponsor leagues, they hold tournaments and other golf events nearby.
Eastern Amputee Golf Association 15th annual Fairfax County Parks Combo Classic, June 10-11, Twin Lakes Golf Course, Clifton. www.eaga.org
Multicultural Golf Association of America African American Golfers Hall of Fame golf tournament, May 26-30, Bonaventure Resort Spa & Country Club, Columbia; Ben E. King Stand By Me Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic, August, Lansdowne Golf Resort, Leesburg. www.mgaa.com
The Christian Golfers Association has several local chapters. For more information: www.christiangolfer.org